Ho Kai Cheong
Having lived 14 years outside of Singapore, on one of my short visits back, I had this re-entry hiccup on the first day. I was paying the noodle at the food court, when the cashier gave me my change of $6. I was annoyed and angry with the cashier that he had short-changed me.
I must say that there were times the cashiers in East Asia had short-changed me. So, coming back to Singapore, did I have to put up with this too? I was expecting change of $94, so furiously I told the cashier that I had given him $100.
The young cashier panicked; he opened the cash register, going through the stack of notes, but could not find a single SGD100 note. With a long queue behind me, it was almost a scene that was about to boil.
However in that moment, I suddenly realized it wasn’t $100 of East Asian currency, but only 10 Singapore dollars. I embarrassedly apologized to him with the queue looking on. The cashier would not have known what had happened to this confused customer. Unbelievable – how could I make such a mistake, looking at Singapore money but thinking it was East Asian money. I suppose this is what re-entry did to my mind. The colour and size of both are so similar. I just had to laugh at myself.
Public Bus Hiccup!
In East Asia, I was so used to tapping the bus card at the boarding point once, as required. On an outing during my short home leave, I got on bus 106, doing the no-brainer action, and tapped on the card reader.
Reaching my destination, I stood at the exit door waiting for the bus to stop. Then I saw the card reader and the “Tap in & Tap Out” notice. Uh-oh! I reached inside my bag for the card, but too late! The captain was waiting for me to alight, but my hand was still fidgeting inside my bag to look for the card.
I called out to the bus captain: “师傅请等一下” (“Captain, please wait!”). The gracious captain waited about 1 minute, but still no card, so I gave up. “师傅不好意思，我下车，对不起！” (“Captain, I will alight now, sorry!”)
I wasn’t embarrassed but felt “stupid”, and after a few seconds I stood there laughing. “Aiyoh, why like this ah!” I had overestimated myself, thinking that I would not face any re-entry behaviours. Since then, I’ve told myself “It’s all right! Re-entry adjustment is for real, don’t get uptight, just relax and act cool!”